“A Highly Questionable Visit”
19 July 2023
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Boxing great, Floyd Mayweather, was recently in Zimbabwe as part of his tour of Africa, which he coined “Money Man Tour”! It’s commendable that people of African descent, especially ones as prominent as Floyd Mayweather, make visits to the continent.

We should be promoting such visits at every turn because solidarity among all peoples of African descent is paramount. We are in this fight for freedom and prosperity together as a people with a similar history of slavery and colonialism. Martin Luther King said it best when he stated, “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.”

However, the former heavyweight champion’s trip was riddled with controversy due to its timing. Many have questioned as to why Mr. Mayweather made an appearance in Zimbabwe at this time? The country is holding nationwide elections in late August, and his trip was sponsored, organized and led by a candidate for the ruling ZANU-PF party, a Mr. Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya, who was reported to having spent a large sum of money to host the former world heavyweight boxing champion. Sakupwanya is a controversial figure in politics, who is running for one of the parliamentary seats under the banner of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

While the controversial politician was showing Mr. Mayweather around the constituency he is competing in, “there was an outpouring of anger over his company’s mining operations in Manicaland province,” as reported by the local newspaper, Newsday. Newsday alleges that his company mining operations in eastern Zimbabwe have “caused untold suffering to communities” over the years.

A mine owned by his company, BetterBrands, was closed this year by government “following reports of at least 100 deaths since 2020 due to poor working conditions.” The Zimbabwean Centre for Research and Development, an independent institution has had a sustained campaign to hold BetterBrands to account over the deaths in Sakupwanya’s mines, mineral leakages and environmental degradation, gold smuggling, and lack of transparency. All these, it claims have been given a blind eye by the government.

Mr. Sakupwanya is also one of the characters named in the Al Jazeera documentary – The Gold Mafia, which exposed widespread corruption in gold smuggling in various African countries including Zimbabwe. The documentary heavily implicated the country’s president, Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa and first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa as key elements in the illegal movement of gold and money in the country. Mr. Sakupwanya was described as one of the biggest gold barons in the money laundering corruption saga.

Perhaps Mr. Mayweather, who also visited with President Mnangagwa while in Zimbabwe, was not aware of any of these allegations about his host(s) but these are the kinds of individuals he was associating with. The current Zimbabwean leaders have spent the last 40 years presiding over the political and economic ruin of what was once a promising African success story. “Mr. Moneyman” spent his time in Zimbabwe visiting with people who have destroyed the country’s economy and infrastructure, agriculture, and health and education systems. And they are doing everything they can to perpetuate themselves in power by ensuring that they fraudulently win the upcoming election in August, 2023.

Perhaps Mr. Mayweather is also not aware of the gross human rights violations that were occurring and have been occurring in Zimbabwe prior to and even as he was there and when he left for South Africa. A duly elected member of parliament from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change has been sitting in prison for over 300 days on false charges and has not been afforded his constitutional rights to a speedy and fair trial.

Opposition activists are routinely arrested and tortured, barred from holding rallies or political gatherings, and civic, religious and human rights and student activists subjected to sexual violence, torture and even murder. For example, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, Grace Ablaze Ministries International and Divine Destiny Church, a visually impaired prominent government critic was on June 22, 2022 arrested in his church while he was in the middle of leading prayers, as he said, “for the country’s peace and prosperity.” He was whisked away by armed anti-riot officers, who arrested 36 more people in attendance, beating them with batons as they arrested them. “The level of anarchy manifesting through unlawful arbitrary arrests, torture of political victims, and denial of justice, and the killing with impunity of civilians by state agents is unparalleled and the church is obliged to admonish those in rulership,” said Bishop Magaya.

Zimbabwe is due to hold national elections at the end of August, 2023. The current government is doing everything it can to steal this election, including enacting laws that violate not only the country’s constitution but long established international human rights treaties that Zimbabwe has ratified, including, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mr. Mayweather should do his research before embarking on African tours that link him with people and governments that demonstrate no respect for the people that they govern. Zimbabwe is one such country.

Mr. Mayweather was reportedly feted at five star hotels and given high scale receptions on his visit. He need not have looked too far from where he was luxuriating to see for himself poverty and high unemployment, rotting infrastructure, hospitals without proper facilities and medicines, dilapidated buildings, and perhaps a woman and her children on a street talking about a missing husband or brother imprisoned for his political beliefs or for simply urging people to register and vote.